LEAD PAINT: Understanding the History and Lingering Effects of this Public Health Crisis

The United States of America has a long and troubled history with the use of lead-based paint, and the repercussions of this dangerous industry remain a serious threat to millions of Americans today. In order to properly understand the risks of lead poisoning and ensure that you and your family avoid exposure to toxic levels of lead, it is important to look back at the history of this material, its uses, and why it remained so prevalent in the United States for years after its dangers were well documented.

It Started as Early as the 1920’s

Worldwide, the health risks of lead exposure were well known as early as the 1920s. Between 1920 and 1930, countries such as France, Austria, Belgium, and Greece banned the use of lead in all consumer products. The United States, however, did not feel a ban was necessary, as the lead industry had become one of the country’s most profitable institutions.

At this time, Americans consumed over 170,000 tons of lead paint per year, in spite of decades of well documented cases of hallucinations, convulsions, comas and even deaths experienced by individuals exposed to lead in industrial and domestic settings. Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, lead remained an essential ingredient in everything from paint and gasoline, to foil for candy wrappers and cake decorations.

By the 1940s, public debate about the use of lead and its associated health risks was raging in the United States. The lucrative lead industry successfully lobbied politicians and engaged in disinformation campaigns in the media to keep public policy from completely shifting out of their control.

High-ranking lead industry executives paid scientists to conduct flawed studies designed to muddy the waters of public opinion and cast doubt on the links between lead exposure and serious health problems. Much like the efforts of Big Tobacco in the early 2000s and Big Oil today, this disinformation campaign put industry profits above consumer health to an alarming degree.

Use of Lead in Products was banned in 1978

The use of lead in paint, gasoline, and all other consumer products was finally banned in 1978, but the CDC estimates that in 2013 over 500,000 American children between the ages of 1 and 5 years old still faced the severe medical dangers associated with lead poisoning. In addition, it is estimated that 30 million American homes still contain lead paint, with the highest concentration of lead poisoning cases found in Baltimore city.

Baltimore Residents and Children Hit Hard by Lead Poisoning Exposure

Baltimore residents should consult their medical professional as well as the Center for Disease Control’s Lead Prevention Program for advice about lead paint and steps to take.

If you feel you or your child has been exposed to unsafe levels of lead due to negligence or poor building upkeep, contact The Yost Legal Group at 1-800-YOST-LAW (967-8529).

The Yost Legal Group offers superior experience in aggressive litigation of lead paint poisoning claims and has successfully protected the rights of many families exposed to this serious health risk. If you feel you are at risk, don’t hesitate to act and call today for a free consultation.